Six years ago, I found myself, having just been dumped, sitting in a church, letting it burn. As I walked out, I bumped into an old school friend who was the only other girl I knew at that school that had been a singer. She introduced me to Ilona Domnich, her singing teacher, who I met the following week, a woman who would offer me cheap lessons for a year and convince me to pursue a career as a singer.
I had taken a long break from singing. School was hard, too academic for me, and it had dried up my creativity. I remember listening to everything on the radio in those years, whatever was in my dad’s collection, but I couldn’t bring myself to sing anymore. I don’t know what it was: the cold atmosphere of an impossibly academic school in Oxford; the fact that I missed my friends from Scotland, who knows. But I couldn’t sing anymore.
Till that day in the church. Something snapped. Was it that I got dumped? Maybe a bit. I was worth more, but I didn’t even believe it so I don’t know why anyone else would have.
But actually I think singing returned when she was good and ready; when I was ready to say what I needed to say. Most creatives will talk about spiritual things at this point. Yes, there’s that too. It’s…my calling. I was just in denial for a really long time.
I think the first time someone told me to be a professional singer I was about 12. I learned opera; arias that were impossible for an 11 year old to sing but somehow I managed. I was part of the choir, the madrigal group, took private lessons and ended up doing most of the school solos and duets and concert performances for which there were cups and prizes. I remember losing myself in performances despite being really afraid to sing in public. I don’t really remember doing anything else. There were pianos everywhere and we all played music all the time. Until the silence fell…
Over the years, I honestly thought if I ignored the hunger to sing long enough, that it would eventually just die out. But if anything, that voice inside me grew louder and louder until I had no real option but to listen. There was nowhere to hide. I can’t explain it. There wasn’t any point to anything if I didn’t sing.
I see that now in people that want so desperately to do something and don’t for whatever reason – fear, the fear of being too late, too old, incapable. But fearful nonetheless. Fear.
I don’t sing opera anymore. I had a singing lesson with the head of the Bolshoi Opera Company when I was living in Moscow. I have no idea how these things happen. She said I was hopeless! But it was the criticism that kicked me onto the right path. The music you make is the music you love. And while I have the utmost respect for the discipline and skill of the classical singers, I almost never listen to them.
But I couldn’t quite let classical music go either. Instead, it features in my backing vocals – soaring operatics against a pop lead voice and haunting drones and strings in the background. It’s classical, just a bit rebellious.
Bit like me.
Welcome to Naomi Sutherland Music. I’m delighted to be sharing my journey with you. I ran for many years hoping that my fears would eventually silence me and in the end, finally, I faced the light.
If I can, you can! Dream big!